Ten-year-old Madhav Gopal Kamath, a Mangaluru origin boy, has made India proud by securing the second place in the 2021 Scrabble World Youth Cup on Sunday, August 22, 2021. The event, which is normally held in different parts of the world, was this time held online due to the pandemic. Madhav’s second-place finish in the main Under-18 event is the best performance by an Indian scrabble player in the history of the World Youth Cup. The prize comprises a trophy and cash award.
Equally impressive was 12-year-old Suyash Manchali from Bengaluru, a class VII student at MESKKPS, Vidyaranyapura, who finished eighth and was named as the best Under-14 player. This was the first time India had two players in the top ten. The Indian team also received the ‘Spirit of Scrabble’ award for being the team that best played in the true spirit of the game.
Madhav narrowly lost out on the top spot to defending champion 15-year-old Syed Imaad Ali of Pakistan. Madhav and Imaad both had nine wins from 13 games, but Imaad won the title due to a better spread (difference between his scores and opponent’s scores). The annual global event is organised by World English-Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) and was hosted this year by Pakistan Scrabble Association. India's participation in the tournament was coordinated by the Scrabble Association of India.
Madhav, who is a class VI student at Sanskriti School, New Delhi, is the second son of Sudhir Kamath and Malavika P. His father Mangalore born Sudhir Kamath is the CEO and Co-founder of 9stacks, India’s fastest growing online poker platform. His grandmother, Surathkal Gowri Kamath was earlier a resident of Pound Garden, Kadri, Mangalore.
Madhav started playing scrabble when he was six. He has previously won the Under-8, Under-10, and Under-12 works titles held in Malaysia 2017, Dubai 2018 and Kaula Lampur 2019 respectively. This year, apart from runner up (2nd rank) in the main Under-18 event, he has won the Under-12 too. He has participated and won prizes in adult tournaments too, including top five finishes in two national level tournaments for adults.
2021 Scrabble World Youth Cup
2021 Scrabble World Youth Cup tournament featured the top 72 Scrabble players aged under 18 from 14 countries, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, UK and the USA. Each of the players first played 36 games in a hard-fought preliminary round held over two weekends from 7th to 15th August. The top ten players from the group stage proceeded to the final round on 21st and 22nd August and played a further 13 games each. The tournament was played online, with strict monitoring protocols in place to prevent unfair play, with the players being observed constantly.
India’s competitive Scrabble circuit has seen an upswing in recent years, with India-born Akshay Bhandarkar winning the world title a few years back, and Indians consistently ranking in the top 50 in the World Championships for adults and amongst the top 20 in the Youth Championships. The recent lockdown has given a further push to online Scrabble, and many talented youngsters have taken to the game in a big way. With both Madhav and Suyash being under 12, they have many more years to participate in the Under-18 Championships, said a media release by Scrabble Association of India.